Saturday, December 29, 2012
I didn't notice it as I hiked downhill on a cold, drizzly morning the beginning of this month. But it caught my eye as I re-tracked my steps coming back up the mountain a short time later. There stood a little tree all by itself...decorated for Christmas.
Earlier that morning, I struggled to drag myself out of bed. Sometimes it's hard not to let the fog and freezing cold win. It was a Sunday, and I knew my late start would lead to a mad scramble to get ready for the day when I returned home, but something convinced me to go anyway.
After I stopped to admire the sweet little tree for a minute, I headed on up the hill, so happy to have seen it. Little, tiny, feathery snowflakes started falling, as I thought to myself..."If I'd gotten up when my alarm went off and started hiking on time, it's likely I wouldn't have seen the decorated tree at all in the early morning darkness. If I'd gone any later, I wouldn't have taken that long trail and even passed that tree." God wanted me right there at that time.
As I walked away, my mind stayed on that small evergreen. It was alone and beautiful right where it stood. Right in the little tiny spot where it rose up from the earth.
The tree has managed to capture my attention all month. Since that day, I've been more inspired than usual to hike the back side of the mountain where it grows. The morning after Christmas, short on time once again, I was determined to see it...hoping it would still be decorated for me. It was. :) Even when I'm not up there...just driving down the road or out for a run or doing any number of other things...it has been on my mind.
I know the ornaments will soon come down, but I was glad to see them still there this morning. As I walked on today, these words came to my mind: CHRISTMAS ISN'T OVER. When the decorations are stored away, and the family gatherings are done, and the people go back to work and school, Christmas isn't over. We celebrate, and are thankful for, Jesus' birth every day of the year. We should live like it. If the extra little bit of patience and generosity and love isn't with us beyond the month of December, it should be. I've read hundreds, if not thousands, of cards and greetings that talk about the Christmas spirit lasting through the year. And now I get it. The little tree helped me understand.
We can shine light to this world wherever we are. We can bring joy to others. We don't have to be in the middle of a crowd of people just like ourselves. We can stand alone...and make a beautiful difference all year long, because Christmas is never over.